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British police 'to dig at resort' where Madeleine McCann disappeared

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Portuguese authorities have accepted a request from British police to search land close to the hotel where three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007, according to press reports on Tuesday.

"The public ministry of Portimao has authorised English police to search land close to the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz," the Correio da Manha newspaper reported, citing a source close the investigation.

The announcement comes almost seven years to the day after the young British girl's disappearance.

According to reports in both the Portuguese and British media, police officers want to use radar equipment to search for clues concerning Madeleine's disappearance.

Portuguese authorities refused to comment on the reports. Scotland Yard also made no comment.

Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman for parents Gerry and Kate McCann, said: "As always, we simply will not comment on operational details of Operation Grange, that is a matter for the Met Police.

"Kate and Gerry are being kept fully informed throughout."

Her parents have never given up hope that their daughter is alive.

News that officers could begin digging at the resort comes just weeks after British police said they were looking for a paedophile who sexually abused five girls during break-ins at holiday homes between 2004 and 2010 in the Algarve resort region of southern Portugal where Praia da Luz is located.

The man is suspected of breaking in to 12 properties where British families were staying.

Madeleine disappeared just days before her fourth birthday in May 2003 from the bedroom of a holiday apartment while her parents dined in a nearby restaurant with friends.

Portuguese police officially closed their investigation in 2008, which at times proved controversial, especially after they indicted the girl's parents in connection with her disappearance.

British authorities opened their own investigation in 2013.

On Saturday, a prayer service was held in the McCanns' home village of Rothley, near Leicester in central England.

Around 100 people attended the low-key, open-air service in the village centre, in which candles were lit for all children taken away from their parents.

Gerry McCann expressed his gratitude for the police investigation, which he said was now moving on to a "very active" phase.

"They are chipping away and obviously there is new evidence so we are going to continue to hope that we will get a happy outcome," he said.

In a message posted Saturday on the official website dedicated to finding their daughter, Kate McCann said: "Our situation seems as unbelievable as it did that very first night without Madeleine.

"Whenever I find myself becoming paralysed with disbelief, unease, frustration or sadness, I have to refocus my mind on the positives, of which there are many.

"The Metropolitan Police force continue to make encouraging progress in their investigation with new evidence being uncovered, fresh information coming in to the inquiry following appeals and, subsequently, links being made between people and events."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140506/british-police-dig-at-resort-where-madeleine-mccann-disappeared